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Showing posts from December, 2020

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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/coming/missing, who's responsible, + project overview/FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2020: pandemic closes Barclays, but construction continues, after-hours; protests redefine arena plaza; no answers re next phases & housing deadline; accountability elusive

In my 2020 preview, I predicted that this year should be a year of continued progress, given four towers under construction, "but question marks will persist about the project's overall contours and fate." Indeed, those question marks persisted, even as two towers topped out and two others, as planned, started. We did not, as I'd predicted, get more clues on the fate of Site 5--longtime home to Modell's and P.C. Richard--slated for a transfer of bulk to further a giant two-tower project. Nor did we see nor the start of the first phase of a two-phase buildout of the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard, or the start of the B5 tower, the first of six towers to be built over the railyard.  Nor did we get any specifics on how the project's developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, would fulfill its obligation to complete 2,250 affordable housing units by May 2025--a deadline that, while still possible to meet, looks less certain. Nor did we learn the level of affor

Some Barclays Center contrast: idling bus on Dean Street a reminder of arena encroachment; BSE Global highlights support for "our neighbors"

I wrote yesterday  about how then-Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin described the Barclays Center as a good neighbor. However, as I've written--such as after the Brooklyn Nets' home pre-season game--arena operations depend on encroachment of streets and sidewalks, with illegal parking and idling. Another example: the video below, taken Monday, 12/28/20, about half an hour before the Nets' home game, showing a bus idling on Dean Street--outside the 461 Dean residential tower and near the arena's back entrance--for well more than three minutes. It's just part of doing business. BSE Global Community Update Of course, most people neither notice or care, and the Barclays Center operating company, BSE Global, has a much more robust public relations operation, as well as a track record of involvement in the larger community. Yesterday, the company circulated a BSE Global Community Update , recapping "recent highlights from our work supporting our neighbo

Flashback: how Forest City's then-CEO Gilmartin, on podcast, spun the arena as good neighbor, housing catalyst (plus Gehry renegotiation, NY Times lesson)

I recently listened to the 3/22/17  Leading Voices in Real Estate podcast  interview with MaryAnne Gilmartin, then CEO of Forest City Ratner, to be renamed Forest City New York later that year.  Most of the interview, by Matt Slepin, covered professional and biographical matters covered in other interviews/podcasts--real estate as "Rubik's Cube," comfort with uncertainty, "I always say 'I slay the dragon every day'"--but a couple of things stood out. About the arena After host Slepin asked placemaking, that gave Gilmartin entree to talk about "Pacific Park Brooklyn, which is a neighborhood that we've been creating for well over a decade... there's such responsibility on the part of the developer to build in one of the finest neighborhoods in the country at the confluence of some of the most historic and deeply diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn." She said that meant not just creating a "great place," but also "weaving thi

In Los Angeles, new details in federal corruption investigation point to possible (small) role for Greenland USA

The Real Deal, in its 12/24/20 article,  The secrets still to come in the FBI’s Jose Huizar investigation , suggests that multiple real estate companies, including possibly Greenland USA, remain potentially enmeshed in the federal investigation of Los Angeles City Council Member Jose Huizar, who faces 41 criminal counts of racketeering, fraud and money laundering related mainly to Downtown Los Angeles real estate deals involving China-based companies. The most prominent company named is Shen Zhen New World, and developer Shenzhen Hazens has paid a $1 million fine, but, as noted in the article, a superseding indictment of Huizar that federal prosecutors handed down 11/30/20 points to other companies, albeit not indicated by name. A (small) role for Greenland? From the article: Shortly after the FBI raided Huizar’s office in November 2018, the  Los Angeles Times reported that real estate and billboard companies were solicited by [the Council Member's wife] Richelle Huizar to donat

In worthy new book on homeless mother in Brooklyn, an unsteady cameo for Ratner, the Barclays Center, and Atlantic Yards

I recently read the affecting journalistic account of a young single mother's struggle with homelessness, Lauren Sandler's This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home .  (See the enthusiastic New York Times review , which put it on the newspaper's list of 100 Notable Books of 2020 , and a somewhat more critical take  from the New York Review of Books. More reviews from the author's web site .) Sandler, a Brooklynite, meets the woman she calls Camila at a shelter on the edge of Park Slope and follows her through her quest: to find a home, navigate the city bureaucracy, go to school, explore her roots in the Dominican Republic, and navigate fraught relationships with her family and (ex-)boyfriends. It's a valuable, closely-observed reminder that secure housing is bedrock to our existence, that the bureaucracy can be petty and cruel, and that the "system" makes no allowances for imperfect people who lack safety nets. The Atlantic Yards angle And whi

Reminder: Atlantic Yards was a state override of zoning, not an instance of NYC's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing

From a 12/23/20 op-ed in City Limits,  Opinion: It’s Time to End Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. Here Are Some Alternatives , criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature upzoning policy to allow larger buildings if they contain up to 30% affordability, since "it mostly enriches developers and real estate speculators while inflicting real harm to the neighborhoods it’s supposed to help." The essay and issue, is worth grappling with--accessory dwelling units good, building on transit-absent Floyd Bennett Field not so good--but I'll just respond to this: Because this policy is based on big-time private sector developers as the main players, the definition of “affordable” gets fuzzier and fuzzier until it means nothing. Supposedly “affordable” is linked to a percentage of the “area median income” (AMI), a metric that is so flawed it prices out most New Yorkers. If you want to see what goes wrong, try to find an “affordable” unit in one of the towers of the Atlantic Yards

Near Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, nine-story building planned at Dean and Fourth; condo at Pacific and Fourth getting Downtown Organic in base

Yes, the blocks near the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site continue to fill in, especially near Site 5, which borders the rezoned Fourth Avenue, where a boom in available square footage is open to developers who assemble sites. Permits Filed For 52 4th Avenue In Boerum Hill, Brooklyn , YIMBY reported 12/24/20, noting that a set of three-story buildings at the southwest corner of Dean Street and Fourth Avenue will be replaced by a nine-story mixed-use building. Planned are 53 apartments, plus commercial space. The timing is unclear. At Pacific Street Just up the block, at 561 Pacific Street , at the northwest corner of Pacific Street and Fourth Avenue, the 12-story, 62-unit condo building, on the former site of Church of the Redeemer, will host Downtown Organic Market in 6,000 square feet at the base, according to the 12/23/20 Patch .  It's expected to open next May, and condo buyers will get free meals and drinks--the extent unclear.

From the latest Construction Update: still failing to acknowledge after-hours weekday work starting at 5 am and lasting until 10 pm, plus 7 am Saturday starts

It's deja vu. The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Dec. 28 (today), was circulated yesterday at 2:33 pm (lead time) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners. As I wrote two weeks ago , the Construction Update continues to misleadingly under-describe the after-hours variances (AHVs) available at the site, including weekday work starting at 5 am and lasting until 10 pm. Construction progress At B15 (662 Pacific St.), the exterior brick facade of the building has been completed and window installation has progressed through the 19th floor--previously the 18th--according to the Update. At B4 (18 Sixth Ave.), the concrete superstructure program has been completed. After-hours work, officially stated Regarding both B15 and B4, the Update states: In addition, there is an After-Hours Variance in place for all work from 6 pm – 9 pm and for Deliveries, Garbage Removal, Hoist

As new-look Nets stomp Warriors and honor essential workers (authorized guests?), Barclays Center appropriates sidewalk on Dean St., parking on Atlantic Ave.

"It’s still a Knicks Town, no matter how many times they lose or get passed over by TNT or ESPN," wrote the Daily News' Stefan Bondy yesterday, citing the legacy of "frustrating fandom."  But that can and might change, as the Brooklyn Nets, a clearly superior team, contend for NBA supremacy and dominate the tabloid back pages, such as the New York Post today , as they stomped (NetsDaily round-up ) the Golden State Warriors, a team with to missing stars. Honoring essential workers, in person Last night's game was dedicated to essential workers, with "dozens" as special guests, given a “hero bag,” featuring a t-shirt, plaque and foam finger to cheer on the Nets, then a pregame meal on the suite level, with guests spread out, and the ability to watch "in specially constructed pods overlooking the court." That's savvy public relations, though how exactly did they get to evade the state ban on "no live audiences" at sporting e